C-WIN Supports AB 1914 to conform BuRec Trinity River Water Permits
C-WIN encourages you to send a letter to the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee on AB 1914, a bill to require the State Water Resources Control Board to conform the Bureau of Reclamation's water permits to the Trinity River Record of Decision flows, Basin Plan temperature objectives, and to establish mimimum coldwater carryover storage to meet the temperature objectives. A hearing on the bill will be held in Sacramento on April 29, 2014. Time is of the essence!
April 23, 2014
Anthony Rendon, Chairman
Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee
Legislative Office Building
1020 N Street, Room 160
Sacramento, CA 95814
Re: AB 1914, Trinity River Water Permit Terms and Conditions
Dear Chairman Rendon and Committee Members,
The California Water Impact Network (C-WIN, online at www.c-win.org), a California 501(c)(3) non profit, supports AB 1914.
C-WIN supports AB 1914 because it will require the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) to conform the Bureau of Reclamation’s water permits to reflect existing flows and water quality objectives approved by the federal government. The current reality is that approximately half of the Trinity River’s water is already allocated to in-basin uses and maintenance of water quality, therefore it should be reflected in the Bureau of Reclamation’s water right permits.
The Bureau of Reclamation completed the Trinity River Division of the Central Valley Project in the early 1960’s. The Trinity River Division allows the transbasin diversion of water from the Trinity River, the largest tributary of the Klamath River, to the Sacramento River. See Attachment 1 for a conceptual map of the Trinity River Division.
The Klamath-Trinity system produces hundreds of thousands of adult salmon and steelhead annually. It is second only to the Sacramento River’s salmon production in California, and is vital for commercial, tribal and recreational ocean salmon fisheries from Monterey to the Oregon/Washington border.
The eight Trinity River water permits issued to the Bureau of Reclamation in 1959 contain a minimum instream flow of 120,500 acre-feet (AF) annually. The current weighted average annual minimum instream fishery flow authorized by the 2000 Trinity River Record of Decision is 594,500 AF, based on five water year types ranging from 369,000 AF to 815,000 AF. The difference between the state-permitted minimum instream flows and the federal fishery flows is 474,000 AF of “paper water”. Paper water" is water that exists in documents and project plans, but not in the real world.
The paper water pervading our water rights system creates unrealistic expectations about federal water deliveries. Subdivisions are being built, orchards and vineyards are being planted, bonds are being issued and loans are being made based on this paper water (see Attachment 2). AB 1914 would rectify that inconsistency for the waters of the Trinity River.
AB 1914 also requires the SWRCB to conform Reclamation’s water permits with the Trinity River temperature objectives contained in the Water Quality Control Plan for the North Coast Region. This is something that the SWRCB promised in 1989 in Water Quality Order 89-18 and reaffirmed in 1990 with Water Right Order 90-05, but has never followed through.
The Bureau of Reclamation generally operates to meet the Trinity River temperature objectives, but claims that they are not required because it is not a condition in their water permits. Conformance of Reclamation’s water permits with water quality objectives approved by both the state and federal governments helps protect the Trinity River’s public trust fisheries and provides consistency between water rights and established water quality objectives.
AB 1914’s requirement for the SWRCB to adopt minimum cold water carryover storage operational criteria to ensure compliance with the temperature objectives in the Water Quality Control Plan for the North Coast region is just plain common sense. It will help ensure that there is enough water held over for dry periods such as the one we are experiencing to benefit all beneficial uses of water, not just the fishery.
Currently, the Bureau of Reclamation does not operate Trinity Reservoir to any carryover storage criteria, always hoping that the next winter will be wet. Because of this lack of foresight, the February dry forecast by the Bureau of Reclamation shows no storage in Trinity Reservoir starting in November of this year. More water will be sent out of the Trinity River basin to the Sacramento River this year than reservoir inflow and instream releases combined, leaving the reservoir empty by fall (unless the remainder of 2014 is wet). AB 1914 promotes saving water in storage to protect the fishery during multiple dry years, rather than waiting for a crisis like the one we are facing this year.
Thank you for your consideration of this important legislation that eliminates “paper water” and conforms the Bureau of Reclamation’s water permits for the Trinity River Division of the Central Valley Project to existing flow and water quality requirements.
President and Executive Director
808 Romero Canyon Road
California Water Impact Network
cc: Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro
- Trinity River “Ultimate Plan” Drawing , January 1952
- Letter from SWRCB Chairman to Bill Kier, April 15, 1987
- Letter from USEPA Region IX Administrator to SWRCB Chairman approving Trinity River Basin Plan temperature objectives, March 13, 1992
 Attachment 3: Letter from USEPA Region IX Administrator to Chairman of California SWRCB approving Trinity River Basin Plan temperature objectives, March 13, 1992. Accessed athttp://www.c-win.org/webfm_send/416
 See SWRCB Water Quality Order 89-18, pages 18 and 19 athttp://www.waterboards.ca.gov/board_decisions/adopted_orders/water_quality/1989/wq1989_18.pdf
 See SWRCB Water Right Order 90-05, page 31 athttp://www.waterboards.ca.gov/waterrights/board_decisions/adopted_orders/orders/1990/wro90-05.pdf
 See Bureau of Reclamation February 90% Exceedance Forecast athttp://www.usbr.gov/mp/cvo/data/Feb90b2_Min_Rels.pdf